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News From The Nest In Rural Pennsylvania

Homemade Pizza

 Homemade Pizza 

The next time you are in the mood for pizza, instead of ordering out, how about making your own! I want to share a recipe I use that is easy to make, and very good for you to boot.

My Homemade Pizza Crust

Mix together:

2 cups whole-wheat flour (I use organic sprouted whole wheat)
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup rolled oats (I use organic)
2 tablespoons dried milk (I use regular, raw milk)
2 teaspoons salt (I use Himalayan pink salt)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons oil (I use olive oil)
Herb seasonings of your choice, 1 teaspoon each. I like to use dill, oregano, thyme, minced onion, and minced garlic.
I also add 1 Tablespoon of Organic chia seeds. 

In another bowl, stir 1 1/2 cups luke warm water, 3 Tablespoons sugar, (I use sucanat), and 1 Tablespoon yeast together.

Let this mixture set for a few minutes till a foam forms on top.

Mix the yeast and water into other ingredients until all is moist.     

 mixing pizza dough  

Now throw the spoon to the side and dig in with your hands. knead the dough till it becomes an elastic consistency, about 5 to 10 minutes usually. When you've reached this stage, pat into a nice round and cover with a light coating of oil. I let it in the bowl I've mixed it in, and cover with a damp cloth. Put it in a warm place to rise. In the oven with JUST the light on will work fine if you have no other place. 

 Kneaded pizza dough 

   Let this rise till about double in size, about a half hour or more.

 raised pizza dough 

After the dough has risen, punch it down and knead a few times. Now it's ready to spread on pizza stone or pan. This recipe is enough to make 2 pizzas. I used my pizza stone for one, and my cast iron skillet for my second, to make a pan pizza. Separate the dough into two pieces and press into stone or pan of your choice.

 press into cast iron pan for pan pizza 

 spread dough onto stone or pizza pan 

Set the pans of dough back into your warm spot to rise slightly. Now your ready to add toppings. I use my own homemade pizza sauce. Get as inventive as you want with the toppings. For my pan pizza, I went with a meat lovers theme. I used cheese, bacon, sausage, venison burger, and black olives.

For my pizza stone pizza, I used cheese, bacon, pepper rings, mushrooms, onions, and olives. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or till crust is golden brown. Time may vary slightly for your oven. My oven usually takes a bit longer than a recipe calls for. Now don't burn your tongue from eating to quickly when your pizza is done!!! YUM!

 meat lovers pan pizza 

 fresh from the oven  

Heaven Is ...

 Yummy cake with fresh sliced strawberries  

... This cake!  

I wanted to share the recipe for this cake I put together for our Easter dessert. It was a big hit! Since fresh strawberry season will be upon us before long, this cake will most likely be made again, in this household!  

The cake recipe: 

4 egg whites (I used 3 whole eggs) 
2 cups flour 
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 cup butter, softened 
1 3/4 cups sugar (I used sucanat) 
1 tsp vanilla 
1 1/3 cups buttermilk 

Beat together butter, sugar, and vanilla till creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add flour and buttermilk last, alternating each, and mixing after each addition. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven. The recipe called for 20-25 minutes for two 9 inch greased and floured pans, but it took longer than that for me. Mine was more like 35 minutes, so you may have to adjust for your oven. When they’re finished, let them cool for about 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a rack or plates to cool completely. If you use the same ingredients I did, your cake will not be white in color, but a light brown shade. Tastes absolutely wonderful, but if you want it to be white, follow the original recipe.  

The filling between layers: 

1 pack (8 ounce) cream cheese 
1 stick butter 
Real Maple Syrup 
Powdered sugar 
A hand full of finely chopped strawberries 

Beat the cream cheese and butter together. Add maple syrup to taste. Mix in just enough powdered sugar for a nice spreading consistency. Add chopped strawberries last. Use this as the icing between the layers. I had plenty of this leftover, so these amounts could be cut in half.  

The frosting: 

1 container heavy cream 
Sugar to taste  

Beat the heavy cream with mixer till stiff peaks form. Add sugar to your preference for sweetness. Frost entire cake. 

The garnish (and best part): 

Fresh, sliced strawberries.  

Add fresh, sliced strawberries to top and sides of cake. Now sit back and watch it disappear! 

 Watch it disappear

Make Your Own Rag Yarn

I want to share a cool way to repurpose old, worn shirts into what I call rag yarn. This “yarn” can then be used to knit, crochet, or even be braided and sewn into various craft projects. Old t-shirts or similar material work very well. I like to use stripes because they are easier to cut evenly, and make interesting color patterns.  Start by laying your old shirt out flat on a table top, keeping the front and back as even as possible.

 Lay shirt out flat

Next you want to cut the top off, cutting as close under the arms as you can.

Start cut under arm 

cut completely off 

Now cut the hem off.

cut off hem 

You are left with a nice chunk of material that is basically a tube. Starting at the end, cut from what was the side of the shirt. Cut ¾ to 1 inch strips to within 1 ½ inches of the top.

cut strips 

Do NOT cut completely off.

cut to within an inch and a half of the top 

Repeat this, cutting strips the whole length of the piece.

Cut strips the entire way across 

Now open the piece and lay the part that is still connected flat on your tabletop.Starting from the outside, you want to make DIAGONAL cuts from one slot to the next.

open uncut part and lay out flat 

If you cut straight, you will not have one long piece, but lots of unconnected loops! Continue these cuts the entire way, ending the same way you started.

continue cutting in this manner the whole length 

At end 

Next to last cut 

Last cut 

If you did it right, you should have one long, continuous thin strip of material.

Long rag strip 

Starting at one end of your strip, stretch it. When it is stretched, the material curls, resembling yarn.

stretch to curl into rag yarn 

After I stretch it, I roll it into rag balls till I think I have enough for whatever project I have in mind.

rag yarn balls 

You can make potholders, chair pads, rugs, and table runners…anything you can imagine!

come up with your own cool creations 

It’s fun to color coordinate too, choosing shirts with colors that complement each other in your project. The top portion of your shirt can also be cut into rags to be used for cleaning, or for someone like my husband, into disposable grease rags. Give it a try, and see what you can come up with! 

Apple Nut Bread

 Apple Nut Bread fresh from the oven 

I wanted to share a recipe I made for the first time that turned out really yummy! The original recipe was for carrot nut bread but as I so often do, I changed it up to work with ingredients I had to use up. Very slight, simple changes to just a couple things. I call it Apple Nut Bread. I will give the original recipe, and mark in parenthesis where I changed things. That way, you all could try both if you like! I’m sure the original would be really good too. 

Carrot Nut Bread: 

1 cup grated carrots ( I used = amount of my own canned apple pie filling) 

¾ cup brown sugar ( I used ½ cup of sucanat) 

1 tsp baking soda 

2 ½ tsp baking powder 

2 TBSP shortening ( I used real butter) 

1 tsp salt 

1 cup warm water or milk 

2 eggs 

1 ½ cups flour ( I used unbleached) 

1 cup whole wheat flour 

½ cup chopped nuts ( I used almonds) 

Measure flours, baking powder, soda, salt, and sugar into bowl and mix. Add liquid, eggs, and melted shortening to dry ingredients. Mix well. ( I mixed by hand) Fold in chopped nuts and grated carrots. Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Let stand 5 minutes, then bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour. ( It only took 50 minutes for me.) 

The original recipe comes from a cookbook I have titled Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking, A Mennonite Community Cookbook. There is a note at the bottom of the recipe that says “Delicious for school lunches”. No matter if you make the original, make the changes I did, or make your own version, give it a try. It is scrumdillyishous! 

 Sliced Apple Nut Bread 

Homemade Laundry Detergent

This is a very simple recipe for laundry detergent that you can make yourself, and save a lot of money. It works very well, and is especially good for front load washing machines because it is low sudsing. The ingredients you will need are: 

 Ingredients for homemade laundry detergent 

1 bar of Fels Naptha or castile soap


Washing Soda

Baking Soda

To start, you need to grate your entire bar of soap into a medium sized bowl. Use the fine side of a cheese grater. You want it to be a powdery consistency.

 Grate the soap 

 To this you add 1 cup each of the Borax, Washing Soda, and Baking Soda.

 Measure 1 cup of each ingredient 

Mix all together, breaking up any lumps that might be in the Borax or Washing soda.

 Add all ingredients to grated soap 

  mix all together breaking up lumps 

That’s it! This is your laundry detergent. Wasn’t that easy? You just store in a container with a lid. I use a recycled candle jar. Use 1/8 cup per load. That is all it takes.

 Store in a container with a lid 

You could adjust those amounts slightly for extra large, or small loads. This stuff really does work beautifully. My laundry comes out clean, and smells very nice. You can get these ingredients at various places. Our local grocery and hardware store carries all of them, but I can also get them all at Wal-Mart. The money savings is the really great part. You will get multiple batches of your homemade detergent from just 1 box of the Borax, Washing soda, and Baking soda. The price for each of these per box will vary slightly, depending on where you purchase them. The Borax and Washing soda were both a little over $3 a box, the Baking soda I found at $2 a box, and the Fels Naptha I got for .97 cents per bar.

A word about Borax. I’m sure someone is going to say they’ve read Borax isn’t safe. After doing some research, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is just as safe as Washing soda, and I have no problem using it. Here is a link I found that covers the subject pretty good. If you disagree, don’t use it. You have to decide for yourself. I believe that especially today, we have to be diligent in researching many of the products we use and consume. We cannot take it for granted that because someone is selling it, a product is safe. I also believe that you have to look at who did the research, because research can be skewed, depending on how you want the results to be. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in today.

Happy Laundering! 

Sugar Cookie Cups

 Sugar cookie cup filled with strawberries whipped cream and chocolate shavings 

I saw a picture of these wonderful little beauties somewhere on the internet, and I knew I had to try them. These little edible bowls could be filled with so many different things. I chose fresh strawberries, whipped topping, and shaved chocolate.

To make them, you mix up a batch of sugar cookies, the kind with the rolled dough, not drop cookies. Roll them out to about 1/8 inch thick. Use the top of a large glass or mug to cut circles out of the cookie dough. Place the circles on the BOTTOM side of a greased muffin pan that's turned upside down, and gently fold them down around the sides. Bake them for about 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven, and let them cool down quite a bit before trying to remove them. It also helps to take a knife and loosen the edges a bit around the bottom. Be gentle, they will come off. Let them cool completely, and then fill with whatever your little heart desires! Great for Valentines day, or any party or celebration.

A few other ideas for filling would be fresh raspberries with shaved white chocolate, or freshly sliced apples drizzled with a caramel syrup, and, of course, vanilla ice cream couldn't hurt either!       YUM 





Delicious Pound Cake and Thumbs Up Salisbury Steak

Pound Cake 

This is a scrumptious pound cake recipe that I found on It is great by itself, but it’s also wonderful with vanilla ice cream, whipped topping, or plain yogurt with fresh fruit. As I often do, I changed the recipe a bit to better suit with the ingredients I prefer to use.

The Recipe:

3 cups all purpose flour (I used unbleached)
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
3 cups white sugar (I used Sucanat)
6 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used all vanilla extract instead of lemon)
1 cup buttermilk


  Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease one 9 or 10 inch tube pan (I used two bread pans instead). Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

  In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar. This is much easier if you set your butter out ahead and allow it to reach room temperature before starting. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. (I added mine all at once cause I’m impatient! ).Stir in the lemon and vanilla extracts. Mix in flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Pour into prepared pan.

  Bake in preheated oven for 90 minutes. Do NOT open oven door till after at least 1 hour. When cake begins to pull away from sides of pan it is done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely. YUM! Enjoy!

Pound Cake with Yogurt and Raspberries 

I also made a wonderful Salisbury Steak recipe from fellow blogger Cindy. It was delicious, and I would recommend it! I did make one substitution in the recipe. I used ground venison instead of ground beef. My husband and I both hunt, and I had some in the freezer. Thanks Cindy!

Salisbury Steak Recipe from Cindy 

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